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Jim Huffman is the author of The Growth Marketer’s Playbook, the #1 new release on Amazon in marketing, and the co-founder of GrowthHit, a growth consultancy for startups and e-commerce brands.  

Jim has led growth at three different startups that went from idea to over $10M in sales and got featured by WSJ, TechCrunch or the TODAY Show. He has grown his consultancy to over $50,000 MRR.

Jim serves as a growth mentor for Techstars, a startup accelerator.  He has advised and taught marketing to brands that include Sephora, General Assembly, OREO, Hot Wheels, and more.  He is a marketing instructor through General Assembly and the ANA.

Bonus: Jim is a clueless dad to a 19month old girl, an NBA superfan and an aspiring omelet chef.

  • BJ

    Ben Jacobson

    8 months ago #

    Thanks for doing the AMA, @jimwhuffman! In your role as TechStars mentor, what knowledge gaps among founders continue to astound you? In other words, what do today's superstar startup entrepreneurs not know that they really should know?

    • JH

      Jim Huffman

      6 months ago #

      Hey Ben! Thanks for the question.

      What do today's superstar startup entrepreneurs not know that they really should know?

      Start small and focus on solving a problem.

      We all hear this but it’s constantly overlooked. Why is this? It’s bc founders and conditioned to have a great elevator pitch that showcases your TAM (total addressable market) and the huge upside a VC will get by investing in this.

      The truth is it’s about driving traction and making something 10x better or something that adds value. To do that from scratch is really really really (3 reallys) hard so you have to start small. The break out stories are the ones that start small. They know their customer on a deep level and they're laser focused on iterating the product for them.

      Lots of people know this but they lose focus of it.

      2 Share
  • TT

    Tosho Tanevski

    6 months ago #

    If you were given six months to grow a startup or business, what would you focus on improving the most?

    • JH

      Jim Huffman

      6 months ago #

      Tosho! Great to see you here.

      Assuming they already have traffic, I would go straight to the middle / bottom of the funnel and see where I can get quick wins and optimizations.

      For ecommerce brands, that means optimizing product pages with quality images, videos, reviews, social proof, “in the wild” images, free shipping, mobile experience, etc.

      For SaaS companies, how is the free trial working? Do they have a powerful email flow before and after it that gives discounts and reinforces the urgency.

      Lets say they don’t have any traffic, I would have to go with Facebook ads bc they are fastest for getting traffic. I’d do an ad to a lookalike audience of their customer using testimonial and/or offer a product for free or a free trial/demo. It's annoying but free works when you need results asap. (And this is all assuming that Facebook and Instagram don't crash for a day.)

  • GF

    George Featherstone

    8 months ago #

    Jim! You have some noteworthy accomplishments listed here, not the least of which is a book doing well on Amazon. This is a great place, but I know it's been a journey with all the ups and downs that go with it. For someone considering starting down the path of "growth lead" at a company and potentially 'companies' what would be the single strongest suggestion you would give them?

    • JH

      Jim Huffman

      6 months ago #

      George!! Hello there old friend.

      What is the strongest suggestion I could give for a growth lead . . .

      Be very realistic with your exact growth goal and the inputs you’re doing to hit that goal. So many people start “marketing” without any clear goal or objective. I would break it down into this

      (1) Start with your customer - where do these people live online? How do we get infant of them the right way?
      (2) What are your goals - are you tasked with trying to hit $1M in sales or are you tasked with proving product market fit and trying to find 20 paying customers?
      (3) Based on #2, build an actionable plan to hit that number. If it’s a small number then embrace things that don’t scale (be scrappy, manual outreach, surprise and delight, give free products, do in-person demos). It’s it’s a big number then optimize for finding sustainable and repeatable channels.
      (4) Embrace failures and focus on learning / iterating. Always keep an eye on the number you’re trying to hit.

      Focus is so important.

      (Say hi to Gideon for me.)

      3 Share
  • SA

    Stoica Alexandru

    8 months ago #

    Hello, Jim

    I m Alex and I wanna ask you where do you see more opportunities in SaaS Martech right now for a new product that targets SMBs ecomm to retain better the customers.

    Thanks,

    • JH

      Jim Huffman

      6 months ago #

      Hey Stoica. Thanks for the question.

      Segmentation and personalization. SMBs are getting bombarded with cold emails, solicitations and door to door sales. You have to speak to them with their language.

      If you can truly show you know them and/or their problems then you’re going to make your way through the noise. This can be done by using personation and customizing the message to them by segmenting based on their category or industry.

      I am a big fan of tools like RightMessage and ConvertKit that help you do that at scale. With your email flows (Hubspot, MailChimp, ConvertKit), it's worth investing the time to do this the right way.

      2 Share
  • RS

    Ross Simmonds

    7 months ago #

    What's the biggest mistake you see founders make when looking to bring in a growth marketer?

    • JH

      Jim Huffman

      6 months ago #

      Ross! Great question.

      2 THINGS

      (1) They think that growth is a big green button you press and then all of your growth dreams come true. (Oh man, I wish.) It’s the founders that know their KPIs (CAC, LTV, ROAS, etc.) and have worn the "marketing hat” that truly know what goes into the role.

      This is key bc they know how to interview for quality and they can set the growth lead up for success.

      (2) You hire a marketer that is a "coach" and not a "player/coach". This advice is more so for early stage founders but it’s another danger with not understand exactly what you need. Most early stage startups need someone that isn’t just strategic ( a coach) but they can roll up their sleeves and get stuff done (player/coach). I’ve seen startups waste 6 -9 months learning the hard way that they hired something that cannot make things happen.

      Tip: for early stage startups, I love catching marketers with 2-5 years experience that are just about to transition into a lethal player/coach marketer. They are hard to find but can by life changing if you get the right one.

      4 Share
  • KH

    Kyle Huffman

    6 months ago #

    Hi Jim! What are some of your favorite books around growth and/or digital marketing?

    • JH

      Jim Huffman

      6 months ago #

      Hi Kyle! Thanks for the question and picking up our kid from daycare today.

      Here are some of my favorites and why:

      (1) Hacking Growth (by Sean Ellis!) for learning the fundamentals of growth
      (2) Talk Triggers: For learning how to position your brand/company
      (3) Lean Analytics: For making a data driven business
      (4) Effective Executive: For founders/marketers looking to manage a team and their own time
      (5) You can see a entire list of the 21 books I recommend to marketers here: https://growthhit.com/growth/best-digital-marketing-books/

      2 Share
  • KP

    Kian Paras

    6 months ago #

    This is admittedly subjective but what is something that you noticed that beginners just about to start a career in growth marketing often overlook?

    • JH

      Jim Huffman

      6 months ago #

      Kian! Thanks for the question.

      100% The importance of understanding data and how it relates to your actions.

      It’s very easy to get caught up in tactics or hacks on specific channels. That is what happens most of the time.

      At the end of the day, you need to look at the business from the perspective of a business owner and know the language of data. From understand the metrics in a conversion funnel to being very familiar with getting insights in Google Analytics, this is where I always start with someone that is just getting into digital marketing.

      Data shows you where to focus, what's working, what's not working and gives you direction. It should be step 1 with any marketing training or workshop.

      2 Share
      • KP

        Kian Paras

        5 months ago #

        Thanks a lot! I am still a rookie with these things and with so much information out there, it can be difficult to know where exactly to start.

        Thanks again and I think I am not the only one who appreciated the thoughtful answers in 90 minutes that you gave to this page. :)

  • PC

    Pedro Clivati

    6 months ago #

    Hey, Jim - thank you for doing this, I'm glad to be learning from the source himself! :)

    My question is: what do companies need to do to maintain a growth process in place for the long-term?
    I see a lot of them trying to achieve a silver bullet and grow exponentially but they just get lost in the way and give up.
    I know it's not about the silver bullet, it's about seeing it as a constant process of experimentation, but how to keep up with that?

    3 Share
    • JH

      Jim Huffman

      6 months ago #

      Pedro! This is such a good question. Having the long term approach is key but, as you can imagine, everyone gets impatient and wants results yesterday.

      We put ideas into two categories:
      (1) long term (organic, scrappy ideas, seo, content marketing)
      (2) short term (paid ads, giveaways, etc.)

      Optimize your team and your time to do both and be aware of what you’re working on right now - is it for long term and short term. It’s the founders / teams that are aware of this that will be successful.

      Sadly, I see so many people optimize for the short term and then their tactics wear out after a few months and their left with underperforming giveaways and bad ads. You have to do both.

      At GrowthHit, We’re building a big content strategy, site glossary, optimizing data dashboards and webinar relationships that won’t pay off for 6 months to 12 months. But, we balance that with short term wins.

      3 Share
  • TT

    Tina Trierweiler

    6 months ago #

    Do you have any advice for growing a shopify store with $0 ad dollars?

    • JH

      Jim Huffman

      6 months ago #

      Sup Tina!

      Huge fan of Shopify for ecommerce. Here are my thoughts based on how many products you actually want to sell with no ad dollars:

      (1) To go from selling 0 to 100 products:
      It’s all about hand to hand combat and doing thing that don’t scale but add high value. Manually reach out to potential customers, forums, FB groups, reddit communities, blogs, websites, giveaways, etc. Educate them on your product. Toss in free add-ons and nail customer service.

      (2) To go from selling 100 to 1000 products:
      Create a referral mechanism on your site with a strong incentive to get people to share. Harry’s did this with a free shave set for referring friends and Girlfriend collective this with their Free leggings promotion. Brian Balfour calls this tactic our in his Growth Loops framework. This is the key to getting traction that scales. (I wrote about some of these examples here: https://growthhit.com/growth/7-successful-product-launches/)

      (3) To sell over 1,000 products:
      Scale your referral mechanism through third party platforms (blogs, websites, affiliates) and influencers that have massive reach. Build a SEO-driven content strategy that’s optimized for finding high intent traffic based on search keywords potential users would put into Google. Ross at Siege Media is fantastic at this.

      Thanks for the extremely thoughtful question that I absolutely didn’t ask you to post!

  • AS

    Alanna Sousa

    6 months ago #

    Hey Jim,

    Thank you for your time and availability to answer our questions. I got 3 questions for you, if I may :)

    1) It seems to me that one of the greatest challenges when it comes to growing a business, is the nurture of a cross-functional growth culture. The whole "don't keep it to yourself" or don't write it down to only share it later". What's your one piece of advice to encourage people into building this culture in big companies that are not used to the startup "fail fast, learn faster" type of mindset?

    2) Can you share one simple idea that came up from a non-mkt area - in one of the companies you've worked at/for -, that led to a significant growth of the company?

    3) Do you still get free Oreos? And how many omelets do you usually make in a week?

    Thanks again for your time and brain!

    • JH

      Jim Huffman

      6 months ago #

      Alanna - I love a good 3 part question!

      1 - For big companies, I have them limit the scope of their work to something very actionable and something that doesn’t require lots of layers of approval - ideally just have one decision maker so you can move fast. Then I have them focus on how fast can you do something (launch a campaign / run an experiment) and get feedback. Ideally, do something in under 7 days or even 3 days. This way your team gets a quick win and some experience running this agile data driven process. That’s where I see the breakthrough and the confidence starts to build.

      2 - Usually customer service (for ecommerce) of product (for Saas) will have the best ideas - much better than the marketing team. I always go to them directly.

      For one ecommerce brand, we had issues selling a certain accessory online but it did extremely well offline. We spoke with the women that ran the showroom to really understand the mindset a woman goes through when trying on a certain product. This product always won them over in the store bc it was extremely versatile and they could where it 5 different ways. The rep would actually demonstrate how to use it. Just by understanding that value proposition we were able to reposition the product w/ video ads and email to increase online sales It’s so important to speak with the people that interact with the customer every single day.

      3 - ha, sadly no/ But, I grew up on double stuff Oreos (and I mainly just ate the white middle part) so I have had enough cookies for a lifetime.
      Every morning at 6:30am I make breakfast for the entire family (wife & my 19 month old daughter) - I would say my YELP reviews are average. 🙂

  • JH

    Jim Huffman

    6 months ago #

    What marketing trend and I the most excited about in 2019?

    It's 100% personalization as marketing.

    I've seen so many ecommerce brands struggle with conversions and then have a break through when they do smart personalization and segmentation. This can be with an email campaign or with an on-site experience.

    I actually built a Shopify App around it bc I'm so convinced in the performance of it. Check ti out below and let me know your thoughts.

    Simple Targeting for Shopify
    https://realsimpletargeting.com/

  • ZB

    Zlatko Bijelic

    6 months ago #

    Hey @jimwhuffman I am planning to launch a new mobile app and I am curious to know what your advice would be for a lean (but effective) marketing strategy since this is bootstrapped. Thanks!

    • JH

      Jim Huffman

      6 months ago #

      Z! Yes, app growth strategies are tricky bc you're driving to a platform (Apple) you don't own. Here are some thoughts.

      (1) For retention and long term growth, it's all about your app onboarding and educating the user on how to use the app and when to come back and use it again. Also, give them a reason to opt in for push notifications. Love this site for onboarding examples: http://uxarchive.com/tasks/onboarding

      (2) Build a relationship with your Apple App rep and start working to get featured on your category page or, if you're lucky, the home page of apple app store. This is the #1 thing you can do for acquisition. A feature on the homepage/category page can drive thousands of downloads per day. (This is how Evernote got traction in the earlier days.)

      (3) Things that don't scale: Do scrappy tactics to acquire your first 100 users. Meetups, coffee shop demos, slack communities, hackathons, local events. Physically help the first 100 people download the app and watch them engage with it.

      (4) Build virality into the app: When can you ask an existing user to invite someone to use/test the app. Something like Venmo has these built into the core function - "send money" or accept money" from a friend. How can your app do that?

      (5) Editors, Reviews, Youtubers: If you're app is getting positive feedback from your first 100 customers go after niche influencers/editors that look at products in your niche. This is great for getting your early adopters.

      Shout out to Z of Tako Agency - #1 Shopify site dev agency: https://takoagency.com/ (These guys/girls are legit!)

  • JH

    Jim Huffman

    6 months ago #

    Thank you all so much! It's been a blast. Until next time . . . 😊🚀

    BTW, feel free to post questions if you missed the AMA and I'll be sure to check in later today / tomorrow. Cheers! Jim 🍺

  • HR

    Harendrasingh Rajput

    6 months ago #

    How to Become a Growth Hackers into a digital Marketing Expert?

  • HR

    Harendrasingh Rajput

    3 months ago #

    My Question is How to become the real growth hacker? what are the activities required to become hacker.

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